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English Music for Clarinet Import

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Import, September 9, 1997
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Editorial Reviews

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Sonata For Clarinet And Piano Op. 129: Allegro moderato
  2. Sonata For Clarinet And Piano Op. 129: Caoine Adagio (quasi Fantasia)
  3. Sonata For Clarinet And Piano Op. 129: Allegretto grazioso
  4. Four Short Pieces Op. 6: Prelude (non troppo allegro)
  5. Four Short Pieces Op. 6: Scherzo
  6. Four Short Pieces Op. 6: Pastoral
  7. Four Short Pieces Op. 6: Burlesque (Con spiritu)
  8. Five Bagatelles: Prelude
  9. Five Bagatelles: Romance
  10. Five Bagatelles: Carol
  11. Five Bagatelles: Forlana
  12. Five Bagatelles: Fughetta
  13. Five Bagatelles: Ballade
  14. Five Bagatelles: Croon Song
  15. Five Bagatelles: Intermezzo
  16. Five Bagatelles: Scherzo

Disc: 2

  1. Sonata For Clarinet And Piano: Con moto, dolce e con tenerezza
  2. Sonata For Clarinet And Piano: Allegro, ritmico, con brio
  3. Pastoral
  4. Arabesques Op. 47
  5. Sonata In B Flat For Clarinet And Piano: Allegro moderato
  6. Sonata In B Flat For Clarinet And Piano: Scherzando
  7. Sonata In B Flat For Clarinet And Piano: Adagio ma non troppo
  8. Sonata In B Flat For Clarinet And Piano: Molto vivace


Product Details

  • Performer: Thea King, Clifford Benson
  • Composer: Charles Villiers Stanford, Howard Ferguson, Gerald Finzi, William Hurlstone, Herbert Howells, et al.
  • Audio CD (September 9, 1997)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Hyperion
  • ASIN: B000002ZES
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #490,246 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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The CD contains a variety of clarinet music that encompasses many styles. When I think I "English" music, the very pastoral, charming Finzi-type style comes to mind. While many pieces that are included are written in this style, such as Finzi's Five Bagatelles and Hurlstone's Four Characteristic Pieces, there are also more modern pieces such as the Howell and Cooke Sonatas, each of which has its own distinct sound.

I particularly enjoy the Stanford Sonata also. I read somewhere that it had "weak moments", but I personally think it is a great composition. The Sonata is said to take a lot of influence from Brahms, though compared to the Brahms Sonatas, I can say that this influence must be either very small or very general. Though written about 17 years after Brahms wrote his Sonatas, the Stanford Sonata seems more romantic (where as Brahms Sonatas seem to have one foot planted in the 20th century). Similarly, while the Brahms are more introspective and reserved, the Stanford seems more youthful and flamboyant.

Mrs. King's tone isn't the most colorful I've heard, but it is clear, focused, and pleasing to the ear. While I've read many reviews that criticize her technique as sloppy, I hear none of that here. While I certainly can't speak for everything she has recorded, on this disc, her technique is very clean. The pianist is very good as well, traversing more difficult pieces (like the Cooke) and making them sound easy.
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I suspect many considering this music may have been previously inspired by the beguiling clarinet music of Mozart, Weber or Brahms - all of which which wrote truly historic clarinet music rich in soaring, memorable melodies and wonderous, rhapsodic sonorities. Here in this two-CD set of clarinet/piano sonatas, we have early 20th-century music from notable composers in England at that time - Finzi, Stanford, Ferguson, Reizenstein, Hurlstone, Howells, Bliss and Cooke. As such, don't expect to find the charming melodies of Mozart or the soaring lyricism of Brahms here in these later English works. But, what you will find are innovative compostions taking full advantage of the attractive and complimenting timbres of the piano and clarinet along with much of the quintessential manner of English pastoral music.

Yet, as much as I am enthralled with the clarinet music of Mozart and especially Brahms, much of the English music here did not invigorate me with any sprightly allegros, or stir me emotionally with pathos or leave any memorable melodies in my musical mind afterwards. The Furgeson "Burlesque" was probably the most interesting short piece and the pastoral works are pure serenity and sonority; but most of the other works to me meander rather aimlessly with an unsatisfying sense of its progression and purpose beyond showcasing the beautiful, emotive sounds and range of the clarinet. Maybe it is because I prefer music of the Baroque, Classical and Romantic era and less the "Modern" works like many here. Perhaps too there is a reason only a few composers like Bach, Beethoven or Brahms were called "Great" while everyone else was just an "ordinary" composer.
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